When you sit down and just listen, without doubt, or fear, without judgment or pride, to your customers, to your coworkers, and to yourself something wonderful happens. Something is born. A weave of ideas and aspirations that, if nurtured and guided, can become an innovation that could potentially change the world.
I have built a career helping others see the potential in themselves to do something new, something authentic. I have helped others create hundreds of patent applications and have over sixty patents and trade secrets to my own name. And, from these efforts, I learned a simple truth, if you want to create something new you need to look beyond yourself, and to do that you need to listen.
Often today we hero-worship those who embody arrogance in the name of innovation when, in reality, these are marketing constructs of people. To create we must look past the media version of a creator and see the creator in our midst, the true drivers of innovation who quietly listen to needs and craft new solutions.
There are endless possibilities for innovation when I actively listen but when hubris takes over the world narrows to what is within my single mind. As an innovator, excited in the heat of the moment with what is the seed of the next big thing, listening and learning from others is essential to let my idea grow. While not precisely on the topics of innovation, I will leave you with my favorite quote from Yo-Yo Ma that led me on my path to truly respect the power of listening, “When you learn something from people, or from a culture, you accept it as a gift, and it is your lifelong commitment to preserve it and build on it.”